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Cyber Crimes Task Force Critical to Police Investigations

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The year 2014 marks five years since the creation of Springfield Police Department's Cyber Crimes Task Force.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The year 2014 marks five years since the creation of Springfield Police Department's Cyber Crimes Task Force.

Each year this division has become more and more critical to police investigations.

Since this task force was created, about 1.3 billion more smart phones have landed in people's hands.

While the technology has become a part of our everyday lives, it's also becoming a common form of evidence in crimes.

Ronald Mazza sits in Greene County jail after being arrested in December for allegedly sharing pictures of his own children on pornography websites.

Pieces of evidence like his computer and camera were analyzed at the Springfield Police Department.

"In that case we were able to do that within a day and get the person charged," Lt. Tad Peters said.

But Peters said the quick arrest wouldn't have been possible without the Cyber Crime Task Force.

"By searching the computer our analyst was able to find the pictures he had taken and also records of how they were being shared," he said.

Officers like Jeff Burnett can access parts of devices we might not even know are there.

Our computers and our phones capture information, like every time we go to send a message on Facebook

"We have tools that can extract that information," Burnett said, "We can recover deleted documents."

If Springfield didn't have this capability, time sensitive evidence would be sent off to a regional lab, which takes much longer to process it.

"Timing would be the most difficult thing, it's going to drag out the investigation," Peters said.

Computer equipment like this is becoming more important in our digital age.

Local forensic analysis equipment was used 455 times last year.

The forensic examiners assisted with 205 investigations, according to SPD.

"If we were letting all this evidence go by we'd really be missing out on solving a lot of crimes," Peters said.

For him the bottom line is public safety, this technology helps detectives in getting alleged criminals like Mazza behind bars as quickly as they can.

The task force is funded through a grant and approved by the Springfield City Council.

The council approved this year's grant at a December meeting.

It's a joint effort with the City of Republic police department.

They are also working on 25 cases with the FBI.
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